Offer Sweets, Not Alcohol, at Holiday Parties, HR Firm Suggests

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By Martin Berman-Gorvine  

Nov. 26 --To avoid potentially serious consequences of holiday-time fun, it could be worth offering employees at your holiday party lots of extra sugar, instead of its fermented version, according to New Providence, N.J.-based HR services firm XpertHR.

One possible alternative to risking alcohol-induced bad behavior at a holiday party is to “feature a 'signature' nonalcoholic drink and include a name that references the organization, a major accomplishment or a team (e.g., Marketing Margaritas),” Marta Moakley, a legal editor at XpertHR, said in a Nov. 26 e-mail to Bloomberg BNA.

Alternatively, Moakley suggested, office party planners could set up a yogurt smoothie station featuring organic fruits, “provide gourmet coffee/hot chocolate stations with a variety of syrups and toppings; feature a chocolate fountain with strawberries--always a crowd-pleaser; [or] emphasize active presentations of desserts--such as a S'mores station (foregoing the open fire aspect due to risk).”

In a Nov. 25 press release, XpertHR suggested more broadly that holiday office parties should “avoid offensive and risque entertainment and keep the festivities workplace appropriate.” The firm also recommends informing all employees that there is a zero-tolerance policy for discrimination and harassment, training supervisors “to set a good example and enforce company safety and behavior policies” and acting right away on any discrimination or harassment complaints. It's also a good idea not to make party attendance a requirement or to do any business there, to avoid wage and hour claims, XpertHR noted.

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